Righting Citing: Workshop by Dr. Iain Patten

Righting Citing: principles and strategies for editors and translators

Guest speaker: Dr Iain Patten (member of MET)

Date: Saturday 25 September


update We are happy to announce that this workshop is FULL.


Far more than a mere formality, citation is an integral part of scholarly writing that affects message, clarity, and even an author's credibility. As such, it has implications for translators and editors who help authors create coherent texts. Professionals who provide language support for academic authors are often faced with citation problems ranging from unclear or ineffective use of references to practices that fall into the category of plagiarism.

In addition, texts may suffer from the confusing effects of cut-and-paste or `patch' writing. However, it is not uncommon for such problems to be overlooked or for it to be assumed that authors must know how referencing is handled in their fields and never to think of treating it as a textual feature to be examined critically along with grammar, terminology, and general flow of information. Language professionals who are aware of citation issues and who develop skills to recognise and resolve problems will be better equipped to support authors who publish academic articles.



Original developers: Iain Patten, info@iainpatten.com

Mary Ellen Kerans, metworks@gmail.com for MET (Mediterranean Editors and Translators)


Facilitator: Iain Patten (www.iainpatten.com)


Purpose: To raise awareness of incorrect or confusing citation and to practise ways to correct it and identify issues that require negotiation with authors.


Description: The workshop will begin with a short introduction to raise awareness of how citation is used in academic writing and the effect this has on the way in which the text is received. We will then go on to look briefly at the `nuts and bolts' of citation—the style issues associated with different citing systems and their implications for text structure. The main part of the workshop will explore how citation affects the substance of a text and how substantive editing of citing problems can be used to improve elements such as the flow of information and the `voice' of the author. Participants will take a problem-based approach to dealing with citing issues and will consider how to identify changes that need to be negotiated with authors. Discussion of problems will ultimately address the more complex issues presented by minor and more extensive plagiarism, and participants will gain confidence in engaging with them at a textual level in preparation for discussion with authors.


Structure: Following a brief introduction, the workshop will be broadly organised into 4 sections:


1) Citation systems in the 21st century—and widespread misconceptions

2) Citing and substantive editing (1)—info placement

3) Citing and substantive editing (2)—interweaving voices

4) Plagiarism and querying issues


The workshop will take a problem-based approach and a number of different examples and practice tasks will be discussed in each section.


Who should attend? Anyone involved in helping prepare academic texts for publication. While the examples will be mainly drawn from science and medicine, the principles are relevant to other scholarly disciplines. Emphasis will be placed on the work of editors and translators; however, the workshop will also be of benefit to other professionals who support authors with English academic writing, such as teachers of writing or English for academic purposes.


Outcome skills: Following the workshop participants will have developed skills and confidence in 3 specific areas:


1. Spotting a citation problem

2. Resolving citation errors

3. Preparing to negotiate with authors and correct misconceptions


Participants will be more aware of the place of effective citation in scholarly writing. They will be more sensitive to citation problems in the texts they work with and will have practised a range of ways to deal with citing problems in texts.


About the facilitator: Iain K. Patten is an independent medical writing and translation consultant. He began his career in biomedical research before spending a number of years in Spain working as an editor and translator of biomedical science. After a period working in a large international medical communications agency, he now shares time between Valencia and London working with clients to facilitate the effective communication of science and medicine to English-speaking audiences.


Pre-meeting information:


Citation systems


Participants who are not already familiar with the most common referencing systems, namely the 'Harvard' or name/date system and the 'Vancouver' or numbered system recommended by the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, may wish to acquaint themselves with these systems before the workshop. A brief overview with links to further information is available at the website of the British Medical Association:




Identifying and resolving citation problems


Click the links to look at the types of examples we will explore to analyse the nature and possible causes of citation problems, the ways in which they can be directly resolved by language professionals, and approaches to explaining them to authors.


Text A


Text B




What happens when things go badly wrong? Read about an instance of alleged plagiarism in the British Medical Journal that was publicised by the British newspaper The Guardian.




A case study involving academic plagiarism was discussed in the British Medical Journal in 2006. For further insight into some of the complex issues around plagiarism, along with a variety of perspectives on them, also read the responses and related articles available as links at the end of the article:




Guidelines for training academic writers to avoid plagiarism can be found in material developed for the US Office of Research Integrity by Miguel Roig, a plenary speaker at METM 2006:




TEXT A—for pre-workshop preparation


What confusion is created by the citing in the following text?*


*From Siddiqui et al. IFN-g at the Site of Infection Determines Rate of Clearance of Infection in Cryptococcal Meningitis. J Immunol. 2005; 174: 1746–1750.


TEXT B—for pre-workshop preparation


What citing problems can you see in the following text taken from the Introduction of an article published in an international psychiatry journal?* How might you help an author see and resolve the difficulties?


... The theory of adult learning, identified and popularized by Knowles, describes four distinct qualities of adult learners: self-directedness, resourcefulness for learning from life experience, motivation from tasks required for the performance of social roles, and problem-centered learning (1). Knowles' adult learning theory was a theoretical cornerstone in the transformation of lecture-based curricula into self-directed, problem-based learning programs throughout North American undergraduate medical schools and formed the basis of continuing medical education (CME) models of life-long learning.


Adult learning has recently been challenged on both empirical and theoretical grounds. In his article, "The Adult Learner: A Mythical Species," Norman points to a lack of empirical evidence for the adult learner as intrinsically self-directed. Problem-based learning research shows that undergraduate medical students are motivated by grades and honors (2) and are more motivated by implicit short-term program agendas and final exam objectives than by personal interests (3).



1. Norman GR: The adult learner: a mythical species. Acad Med 1999; 74:886–889

2. O'Neill P, Baxter CM, Morris J: Does awarding a medical degree with honours act as a motivator or demotivator to student learning? Med Educ 1999; 33:66–571

3. Newble DI, Jaeger K: The effect of assessments and examinations on the learning of medical students. Med Educ 1983; 17:165–171


*Keri-Leigh Cassidy. The Adult Learner Rediscovered: Psychiatry Residents' Push for Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy Training and a Learner-Driven Model of Educational Change. Acad Psychiatry 2004 28: 215-220.